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China’s Trade Seen Falling in August Amid Softer Demand

China’s booming export growth most likely slowed in August due to weaker global demand, while imports are also expected to have dropped because of a slide in consumption, analysts say.

China's exports are likely to have slowed in August amid weaker global demand, a poll of analysts showed on Monday.
A cargo ship carrying containers is seen near the Yantian port in Shenzhen, which is struggling with Covid outbreaks currently. This image, from May 17, 2020, was taken by Martin Pollard, Reuters.


Analysts say China’s booming export growth most likely slowed in August due to weaker global demand.

Imports are also expected to have dropped because of the property sector crisis and a slide in consumption.

The findings of a Reuters poll have raised concerns about economic momentum. Exports in August were expected to have risen 12.8% from a year earlier, according to the median forecast of 26 economists in the poll, after growing 18% in July.

The double-digit growth suggested booming exports remained one of the major drivers of the world’s second-biggest economy, but analysts expect them to slow as surging inflation cripples overseas demand and China’s zero-Covid policy disrupts production and business activity.

“We see signs of slowing export momentum in August. Domestically, trade-related cargo throughput in China’s eight major ports (including imports and exports) increased 0.9% year-on-year in August (till 20th) versus 14.7% in July,” Citi analysts said in a note.

Both the official and private-sector factory activity surveys showed new export order sub-indexes remained in contraction last month, pointing to a downturn in exports.

Imports were forecast to have risen 1.1%, the poll showed, compared with 2.3% in July.


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Trade Surplus Seen Lower

South Korea’s exports to China, a leading indicator for China’s imports, extended losses for a third month in August.

But Goldman Sachs analysts expected import growth to bounce back to 5%.

“Import growth would be supported by more working days, although this could be partially offset by lower commodity price inflation,” Goldman Sachs said.

This would leave a narrower but still sizable trade surplus at $92.7 billion, compared with a record $101.26 billion surplus in July, according to the poll.

China’s economy rebounded from extensive and stringent Covid lockdowns in June but there are signs the recovery is losing momentum in August.

Protracted weakness in production amid fresh virus flare-ups, a power crunch due to the worst heatwaves in decades and a prolonged property downturn are weighing on its recovery.

The government last week said it will publish new economic measures this month, suggesting an urgency for policymakers to revive the sluggish economy.

China also cut its benchmark lending rate and lowered the mortgage reference by a bigger margin last month.

“Despite an easing of fiscal and monetary policy, the zero-Covid policy and correcting property market have hurt domestic demand,” Moody’s economists said in a report, downgrading forecast of China’s GDP growth in 2022 to 3% from 3.4%.


  • Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard






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Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years and has a family in Bangkok.


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